How much does a social networking site cost to develop?

It's always very hard to estimate the development costs. It greatly depends on the purpose of the project.

There are "pre-built" social networking platforms available on the Internet. They might be suitable for your project.

Below is a list of questions that you should ask yourself before starting the social networking site:

- What are your objectives or what are you trying to achieve with this project?

- What is the target market (age, demography, location)?

- What type of modules or features do you want to integrate into the project?

- How many members and visitors are you planning to attract during the next 12 to 24 months?

- What type of localization or languages do you need?

- Why do you think developing a new social network site is the best option?

- Why not developing a page or an application in Facebook or another social networking site?

If you are building a unique social site then you should seriously consider to build it on your own platform.

But if you're building a social site as a marketing tool for your current business or site I think it's better to use existing social networking platforms (white label sites) like Ning.

From a marketing point of view I think it's a better extension of your brand regardless of how large your company is.

In the past smaller sites had to use "shared sites" because the infrastructure was to expensive to duplicate. The bigger your company was the tighter you held the reins on your company image.

Now site extensions such as Twitter, Facebook and Ning are all just different doorways to your product of service.

There are three following possibilities:

1. Off the shelf products with ownership rights,

2. White label solutions,

3. In-house development of an entire social media platform,

Cost is really going to depend on the scope and requirements of the Social Networking site you are looking to build.

Generally speaking White Label products should be the cheapest initial investment, with Off The Shelf requiring a larger up-front investment. In-house development costs would vary greatly depending on the scope of the site to be built.

A simple site could be cost effective to implement in-house, while a more feature-rich site could be more effectively implemented using Off the shelf community software.

Here's a list of commonly used products we recommend :

White Labels:

SocialGo - no software, hosting or coding required, free and quick setup

World Dating Partners - the best platform for creating dating networking sites

and we recommend Ning as it still the best and cheap solution for your social networking requirements.

Ning is as of July 2010 started charging fees for its social network platform. Ning even with its latest announcement still represents a very inexpensive entry point for social networking.

The differences between a Ning-based social network and a proprietary private social network include: The organization using Ning has to build and maintain the social network. That is not the case for products like Workingrooms, Communitirooms and Recess.

Ning functionality does not address all of the requirements of business social networks. Applications like mentoring, document sharing and collaboration, rewards programs for contributions to collective knowledge, and even the concept of virtual meeting spaces (rooms) are not to be found in Ning.

Off the shelf:

IBM Lotis products connections,, These solutions are most suitable for medium to large companies.

In-house development:

The platforms like Drupal, Ruby on rails are widely used to develop social networking sites.

There are many companies that develop private social networking applications. These applications are hosted behind the firewall and scalable from single room social networks to multi-room, multi-tier social networks. They are priced from as little as $2,500 per year for a small site to as much as $125,000 for a Fortune 50 company.

Since they are hosted new functionality is automatically added in every new build and all new features of social networking are included along with functionality not normally found in public social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you have not signed up for our free Training on how to Build your Own Social Network or Online Community, grab your chance now!

I also recommend you to check out these great complimentary resources:

For your online networking success and until next time. By Boris Agranovich

B2BPioneers Program